magpie’s nest: formerly-fyna: i absolutely adore catherine moreland just because she…
i absolutely adore catherine moreland just because she exists, but i’d be lying if i didn’t say that i get an extra surge of love for her out of pure spite when people write about how they don’t like her because she’s ~whiny~ and ~stupid~. i mean, yeah she’s naive, but she also doesn’t need to be told how she feels (she knows she likes tilney; for a character who is so wrong about so many things she’s incredibly self aware). and she’s cute, damn it!
people keep on comparing her to lizzie bennet, who i love as well, as if lizzie is some perfect being who displays none of the flaws that catherine does. THIS IS SO WRONG. both ladies are deceived about the reality of their situations because of their imaginations. lizzie imagines darcy to be worse than he is because of the circumstances of their first meeting, and she imagines wickham to be better than he is because he compliments her and strokes her ego with his gossipy bad news about darcy. that’s what lizzie realizes when she says “did i know myself till now?” in the same way that part of the point of lizzie’s story is that she’s arrogant and judgmental to her own detriment, catherine gives herself over to fiction to her own detriment. they both read the world wrong: lizzie through her own prejudices and catherine through the lenses of novels. both are engaged with divesting themselves of fictions (catherine more tragically, in my opinion, because she gives up the passion with which she read novels, and gives up a large part of her imagination, and instead of learning to read novels properly she only learns to avoid them.) (btw, catherine’s romance isn’t saved through the castigation of one of her family members, *cough*)
and if lizzie and catherine ever met they’d be friends. (charlotte would probably introduce them.)
also this whole lizzie vs catherine thing (am i imagining it?) plays into a lady vs lady thing, which is just gross. also stuff about how when i say i want a strong female heroine i don’t mean a heroine who is always right and runs around slitting people’s throats while screaming wildly across the plains a la xena (although i really reallylove ladies who run around slitting people’s throats, and xena warrior princess is a fav of mine) what i mean is a heroine who is a fully realized character and is allowed to have agency within the narrative and functions as more than just a vessel (i need a better word for this) for some other character
so yeah, catherine morland is awesome
it makes me sad but also does not surprise me at all that there are apparently human beings on this earth that somehow SOME WAY hate… catherine moreland?!?!?1?1?11
they both read the world wrong: lizzie through her own prejudices and catherine through the lenses of novels.
Yes, thank you, this is a wonderful post and pitting Austen’s characters against each other is boring bullshit, but I would just like to add one thing about Catherine’s reading of the world that makes me love her a great deal.
Because yes, Catherine misinterprets and misunderstands a lot of the social cues around her through the frame of the gothic novel, but what’s really interesting is that she isn’t entirely wrong in her judgements.
She suspects General Tilney, with what is eventually revealed in the text to be good reason, because while he is not the kind of man who would murder his wife (well done, high bar), he is the kind of man who would suddenly throw a very young, vulnerable woman out of his home unaccompanied.
Catherine isn’t even given 24-hours notice that she will have to leave Northanger; there is not time to write for someone to meet and accompany her. She doesn’t even have any money, and only Eleanor’s intervention means she can pay for the expenses of travelling alone 70 miles by post-chaise to her home at Fullerton. General Tilney may not be a murderer, but he is not a good man, and Catherine’s suspicion of him is not entirely unjustified.
Likewise, Catherine’s discomfort with Thorpe, who twists social convention to force his unwelcome presence on her, and as the OP points out, her self-conscious admiration of Tilney; Catherine has fairly good instincts about people, which, yes, are distorted by her relationships with gothic texts [so much so that her relationship with Isabella is in part so positive because they read the same books- Catherine’s esteem for the novels transfers to esteem to Isabella].
So despite her misinterpretations, Catherine’s good instincts are there nonetheless and are generally borne out by the text. Northanger Abbey is great because it’s not about ‘oh stupid girl shouldn’t read novels or form her own opinions’, it’s ‘young inexperienced girl gains the experience to be able to make and trust her own judgements when discerning between social lies, fiction and truth’.
And this is a wonderful thing in Elizabeth Bennet’s story as well, in that while she certainly makes an error in judgement regarding Darcy and Wickham’s characters, she is also shown to be a perceptive and accurate judge of character in others (her analysis of Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh comes to mind, and even of Mr. Bennet).
Elizabeth is brilliant and satiric and perceptive; prejudice distorts her good judgement, but like Catherine, the text never suggests that one error means that all of her judgements are invalid. It’s not an all or nothing equation.
Both Catherine and Elizabeth form misconceptions about others, but they are neither of them shown to be completely misguided and incorrect about the world - it’s not absolute. They make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, because they are
strong well-written female characters, and making mistakes is kind of what human beings do.
(And Catherine would totally be in awe of and in love with Elizabeth and would read every book Elizabeth ever even vaguely alluded to and it would be charming and wonderful. Tilney would have to suffer through Collins while Elizabeth, Charlotte and Catherine talked, but he might enjoy it because it would give him marvellous opportunities to be ironic over Collins’ head.)